• When one reflects on the range of actual cases in which forgiveness seems appropriate, it’s really a subset of them that involve moral wrongdoing. When one thinks of the domestic context, e.g., where forgiveness, apology, and the like are very common, painfully common, much of what is at issue are not serious moral wrongs but rather slights, insensitivities like inappropriate tones of voice (sometimes even marginally so). Or consider philosopher’s reactions to the slights involved in how their work is (...) criticized or underappreciated. (shrink)
Imagine how it must appear to the Martian making his first visit to earth. Let us suppose that he too is an intelligent being whose intelligence has, however, evolved without the mediation of language, but rather, say, through the development of ESP. So he is something like the angels who, according to St. Thomas, can see things directly in their essences and communicate thought without language. What is the first thing he notices about earthlings? That they are forever making mouthy (...) little sounds--clicks, hisses, howls, hoots, explosions, squeaks--some of which sounds name things in the world and are uttered in short sequences which say something about these things and events in the world. (shrink)
Wittgenstein speaks of the fog that surrounds the workings of language. Our ways of thinking about reference contribute generously to the fog. While a full discussion would constitute a book-length project, my aims here are quite limited. I want to have a look at the idea that reference is a relation between a piece of language and a piece of reality. The idea might seem unexceptional and unexceptionable; names, for example, name things, and “relation” seems just right. But there is (...) casual relation-talk, and then more serious talk of a genuine relation, one that requires the existence, in every case, of a referent. Referential expressions, I’ll argue, sometimes lack such a relatum, and other timeswhen in some straightforward way there is such a thingit’s quite difficult to know what we are talking about. (shrink)
Philosophy and Poetry is the 33rd volume in the Midwest Studies in Philosophy series. It begins with contributions in verse from two world class poets, JohnAshbery and Stephen Dunn, and an article by Dunn on the creative processthat issued in his poem. The volume features new work from an internationalcollection of philosophers exploring central philosophical issues pertinent topoetry as well as the connections between the two domains.
Charles Griswold’s seminal work, Forgiveness, is the focus of the present essay. Following Griswold, I distinguish the relevant virtue of character from something that is more like an act or process. The paper discusses a number of hesitations I have about Griswold’s analysis, at the level both of detail and of underlying conception.
project. Their voices, though, have been dimmed by current theological orthodoxy--I don’t mean denominational Orthodoxy but rather the standard modes of theological thought bequeathed by the medievals. Developments in philosophy—like the work of Wittgenstein—suggest that the time may be ripe for another pass through the terrain.
This collection of essays focuses on a current issue of central important in contemporary philosophy, the relationship between philosophy and empirical studies. Explores in detail a range of examples which demonstrate how the older paradigm – philosophy as conceptual analysis – is giving way to a more varied set of models of philosophical work Each of the featured papers is a previously unpublished contribution by a major scholar.
The late 20th century saw great movement in the philosophy of language, often critical of the fathers of the subject-Gottlieb Frege and Bertrand Russell-but sometimes supportive of (or even defensive about) the work of the fathers. Howard Wettstein's sympathies lie with the critics. But he says that they have often misconceived their critical project, treating it in ways that are technically focused and that miss the deeper implications of their revolutionary challenge. Wettstein argues that Wittgenstein-a figure with whom the critics (...) of Frege and Russell are typically unsympathetic-laid the foundation for much of what is really revolutionary in this late 20th century movement. The subject itself should be of great interest, since philosophy of language has functioned as a kind of foundation for much of 20th century philosophy. But in fact it remains a subject for specialists, since the ideas are difficult and the mode of presentation is often fairly technical. In this book, Wettstein brings the non-specialist into the conversation (especially in early chapters); he also reconceives the debate in a way that avoids technical formulation. The Magic Prism is intended for professional philosophers, graduate students, and upper division undergraduates. (shrink)
It has long been urged against traditional theism, very long indeed, that God’s perfections—specifically in the domains of goodness, knowledge and power—are logically incompatible with the existence of unwarranted human suffering. It has almost equally long been urged that the problem is illusory—or at least surmountable; the tradition of theodicy must be only moments younger than the problem. The debate is a philosophical classic, with many ingenious moves on both sides, and epicycles galore. But whatever one’s view on the details (...) of the debate, it is difficult—and I think unwise—to resist the sense that evil presents a real and indeed substantial problem for the Western religious tradition. (shrink)
When I was a graduate student in the late 60’s, Wittgenstein was very fashionable. Remarks like “meaning is use” rolled off one’s tongue as easily as “Hell no, we won’t go,” or “It’s not the case that necessarily the number of planets is greater than seven.” I vowed to avoid the Philosophical Investigations , and I was true to my vow until some years later when a friend commented that my approach to indexicals..
The problem of theodicy is a philosophical classic. I argue that not only are the classical answers suspect, but that the question itself is problematic. In its classical form, the problem presupposes a conception of divinity—call it “perfect-being theology”—that does not go without saying. Even so, there is a significant gap between what the Western religions tell us about the reign of justice and what we seem to find in the world. I argue that approaches to evil need to maintain (...) focus on this discrepancy. I conclude with some suggestions for the shape of “nonopiate” ways of coming to terms with evil. (shrink)
I argue that theological doctrine, the output of philosophical theology, is not a natural tool for thinking about biblical/rabbinic Judaism. Fundamental to my argument is the claim that there is a tension between constellations of theological doctrine of medieval vintage and the primary religious literature---the Hebrew Bible as understood through, and supplemented by, the Rabbis of the Talmud. This tension is a product of the genesis of philosophical theology, the application of Greek philosophical thought to a very different tradition, one (...) that emerged from a very different world. (shrink)
The nature of reference, or the relation of a word to the object to which it refers, has been perhaps the dominant concern of twentieth-century analytic philosophy. Extremely influential arguments by Gottlob Frege around the turn of the century convinced the large majority of philosophers that the meaning of a word must be distinguished from its referent, the former only providing some kind of direction for reaching the latter. In the last twenty years, this Fregean orthodoxy has been vigorously challenged (...) by those who argue that certain important kinds of words, at least, refer directly without need of an intermediate meaning or sense. The essays in this volume record how a long-term study of Frege has persuaded the author that Frege's pivotal distinction between sense and reference, and his attendant philosophical views about language and thought, are unsatisfactory. Frege's perspective, he argues, imposes a distinctive way of thinking about semantics, specifically about the centrality of cognitive significance puzzles for semantics. Freed from Frege's perspective, we will no longer find it natural to think about semantics in this way. (shrink)
Contemporary semantical discussions make mention of the traditional approach to semantics represented by Frege and/or Russell--even sometimes by Frege-Russell. Is there a Frege-Russell view in the philosophy of language? How much of a common semantical perspective did Frege and Russell share? The matter bears exploration. I begin with Frege and Russell on propositions.
This anthology of essays on the work of David Kaplan, a leading contemporary philosopher of language, sprang from a conference, "Themes from Kaplan," organized by the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University.
A distinction is developed between two uses of definite descriptions, the "attributive" and the "referential." the distinction exists even in the same sentence. several criteria are given for making the distinction. it is suggested that both russell's and strawson's theories fail to deal with this distinction, although some of the things russell says about genuine proper names can be said about the referential use of definite descriptions. it is argued that the presupposition or implication that something fits the description, present (...) in both uses, has a different genesis depending upon whether the description is used referentially or attributively. this distinction in use seems not to depend upon any syntactic or semantic ambiguity. it is also suggested that there is a distinction between what is here called "referring" and what russell defines as denoting. definite descriptions may denote something, according to his definition, whether used attributively or referentially. (shrink)
Jerome (Yehudah) Gellman’s paper, “Perceiving God,” presented at the Henle Conference at St. Louis University, April 2008, evaluates a couple of arguments that attempt to establish the existence of God on the basis of individual religious experience. I can send his paper if anyone is interested. The following are my comments on his paper.